Tag: Environment

Mercury pollution worsens in remote Arctic realms

A USGS study will try to determine how global warming will affect polar bear populations.

Coal power plants still to blame for emitting most of the toxic mercury pollution

Staff Report

Mercury continues to build up in Arctic ecosystems at levels that threaten the health and well-being of people, wildlife and waterways in the region.

A new study that looks at the sources of the toxic metal shows that airborne mercury is gathering in the Arctic tundra, where it gets deposited in the soil and ultimately runs off into waters. Scientists have long reported high levels of mercury pollution in the Arctic. The new research identifies gaseous mercury as its major source and sheds light on how the element gets there. Continue reading “Mercury pollution worsens in remote Arctic realms”

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Increased greening amplifies global warming in boreal zones


New research focuses on biophysical impacts of climate change

Greenhouse gases speed plant growth. How will that affect global temperatures? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Vegetation plays a key role in the climate change equation, with a recent study showing that vegetation density has substantial climate impacts. According to the research by the European Union’s Joint Research Center, the findings show that vegetation has a warming effect in cold areas and cooling effect in warm areas.

Figuring out the net effect would help develop more integrated and effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The puzzle is complex. Increasing greenhouse gases spur vegetation growth, but the overall effects at the global level are not clear. The new study explores how changes in leaf area (a measure of vegetation density) affect local climate. Continue reading “Increased greening amplifies global warming in boreal zones”

Is offshore drilling coming to a beach near you?

No ocean safe from Trump’s fossil fuel agenda

Nearly every American coastline could be threatened by oil spills in coming years, as the Trump administration seeks to open most areas for offshore oil and drilling. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Environmental attorneys are going to be busy the next few years under an onslaught of proposed fossil fuel development projects, including offshore oil and gas drilling.

As part of the Trump administration’s misguided push for “energy dominance,’ the federal government is preparing to create a new new nationwide offshore leasing plan that could open all U.S. waters to dangerous drilling. Last week, the administration said it will ask the fossil fuel industry where it wants to drill. Continue reading “Is offshore drilling coming to a beach near you?”

Is global warming killing bees?

Study finds 15 common bee species suffer as temps rise

A common bumblebee visits a garden in Vienna, Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The urban heat island effect isn’t just bad for people — it’s also harming bees, according to a new study from North Carolina State University.

“We looked at 15 of the most common bee species in southeastern cities and – through fieldwork and labwork – found that increasing temperatures in urban heat islands will have a negative effect on almost all of them,” said associate entomology professor Steve Frank. Continue reading “Is global warming killing bees?”

Sunday set: Wildflower love

Alpine beauties

Some wildflower love from Austria spanning the last couple of months, from first sprouts emerging through the remnant muck of winter, to forest orchids. Check out the Summit Voice photo archives for more wildflower shots from around the world, and visit our online gallery to purchase fine art nature and landscape prints.

Many wildflower species are under the gun from climate change, especially in the mountains, where they will be pushed out of their habitat. Other studies have documented how global warming will affect native plant diversity in California. The changes to plant communities will ripple through ecosystems, affecting insect and birds, as many studies have shown.

 

Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!

EPA chief continues to alienate important allies

This now seems to be a bit of prescient moment during the COP 21 talks in Paris. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

The U.S. government continues to show how out of tune it is with the rest of the world’s leading economic nations with a press release from the EPA claiming that it has “reset” the conversation about climate change to reflect the Trump administration priorities and the “expectation of the American people.”

Apparently, EPA Administrator didn’t get the clear message from scores of American cities and states that responded to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement by forming a sub-national coalition that is aiming to uphold the goals of that agreement. The We Are Still In Group also includes hundreds of counties, universities and businesses committed to the agreement, so all Pruitt is managing to do is to divide the country. Continue reading “Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!”

Pesticides impair honey bee flying abilities

Nonlethal exposure has significant impacts, new study shows

Exposure to nonlethal levels of neonicotinoid pesticides hampers honey bee flight. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The evidence keeps mounting that pesticides are the main driver of honey bee declines. In a new study, scientists with the University of California San Diego showed that a commonly used neonicotinoid pesticide (thiamethoxam) can significantly impair the ability of otherwise healthy honey bees to fly, raising concerns about how pesticides affect their capacity to pollinate and the long-term effects on the health of honey bee colonies.

Previous research has shown that foraging honey bees that ingested neonicotinoid pesticides, crop insecticides that are commonly used in agriculture, were less likely to return to their home nest, leading to a decrease in foragers. Continue reading “Pesticides impair honey bee flying abilities”